Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

Leave a comment

Cake engineering and other stories

Last week was Mini Me1’s birthday. He requested a “train cake”. Now I know his favourite loco is Mallard. He sometimes comes out with “it was better in your day because you saw him running”. Given the period we’re talking about is 1988 when it made its brief comeback, I’m not sure I did beyond some brief memories of people trespassing at Beverley station to get a decent view.

When I was 11 I requested a double Fairlie cake for my birthday. The Matriarch did her best but cake baking was her thing, not cake engineering so when the Patriarch declared it looked more like Stonehenge, she chucked the rolling pin at us and suggested we did better.

Over the years I’ve done a few cake projects, including St Mary’s Church Beverley and Sydney Opera House in gingerbread, so when Mini Me said “train” I said “Mallard”. I mean if a rolling stock engineer can’t do it, what’s gone wrong with the profession?!

The key to any good loco cake of course is a good base for wheels and boiler. Here’s where the Swiss roll is a Godsend. In this case I used a “Curly the Caterpillar” with the face removed because I wanted the rigid chocolate shell for strength – if I did it again I wouldn’t bother and just use a normal Swiss roll as the weight of it meant I couldn’t get the boiler as high as I wanted.

Square section was chocolate cake bars along with chocolate covered cornflakes for coal.

Application of blue and black icing and edible felt tip pens and the job was done.

Now the dust has settled following the trip to Bressingham, I’m contemplating my next project; either a start on the 009 Society challenge or getting my Bachmann Manor body to fit on the Hornby Grange chassis.

A couple of pictures from Narrow Gauge East to finish.


Leave a comment

You shall go to the ball

Well I won’t bore you with the details of the last couple of days. Although I was the only one who had invented the deadline of showing off the disco train at Narrow Gauge East at Bressingham, and therefore was the only one working to it, I still felt that I had to deliver.

I feel that my next project I shall complete and then post it when I’m bloody well sure it will work. But anyway…

So here it is. 59 van finished, 121 finished, and the Alco has had Greenwich couplings fitted (it previously had choppers- although there is a height issue to sort) name and works plates, a suspicion of lining and the headboard fitted.

I’ve even put a suitable picture in the background to hide all the cr*p on my modelling desk.

You shall go the ball, disco, oh Barge.

Leave a comment

Nearly there

You know that bloke that carves things on a pin head? He did a crown for the Queen and has a resting heartbeat of about 25 and carves in time with his heart while holding his breath.

Yeah well that’s not me. When I was in my youth doing Airfix aircraft I always hated the small fiddly transfers. In those days I had good eyesight. Now I don’t have good eyesight and I still don’t like doing fiddly transfers. Therefore the “FR 59” on the clock side and “RhFf 59” on the engine side was plenty for me. The “To load 5 tons distributed evenly” and its Welsh equivalent can sod right off given I’d have to do it in 1mm high letters.

Leave a comment

Adding the extras

Bits and bobs

With the solution finally found it was time to add the bits.

This meant the top end vac pipe and hand brake wheel. The vac pipe is one I had lying around and is a little small. The white paint, btw for those not familiar with such things, is an indication that the vehicle is not braked, ie it just has the pipe running from one end of the vehicle to the other, also known has “through piped”. For the FR this meant 59 van always had to have something else at its top end if it was going over the summit where it could form the downhill vehicle.

The handbrake is some electrical wire with the insulation stripped off attached to a wheel from the accessory kit from Cambrian Models.

The picture also shows the batteries in the body of the van.

And the power of computers…

The wonders of computers means this sort of thing becomes relatively easy.

59 van was the bike van and ran with labels proclaiming so. At one point the disco train louvred van doors were fitted with fake versions.

I can’t quite remember the exact outline but I remember it used music notes to represent the bike so I knocked up a version on Publisher and shrunk it to size.

While I was at it, I also made up the headboard these trains usually carried for such occasions.

Leave a comment


Yes that old chestnut. Keep it simple stupid. Feeling very pleased with myself I inserted the soldered battery pack in the van only to discover the batteries still fouled the axles.

Honestly! As a design engineer the number of mistakes I’ve made on this project doesn’t bear thinking about. At least you can see the blog is real and not one of those home improvement blogs or those stop frame how to videos where they never make a mistake.

After the paint debacle a friend texted me to ask if Plan D was a hammer. It nearly bloody was this time.

Instead I got the wire cutters out and butchered my last remaining battery holder to get the clips out of it.

Then I knocked up a battery holder that will hold all three batteries together. The spare wire is for the switch which I will fit at a later date as if I try and do it now I will probably take to the hammer.

I’ve checked and it does fit. So now I can see about fitting it to the roof, adding some strengthening to the solebars and then transfers and varnish and we might be about done. Thank ****!

Leave a comment

Getting its stripes

Well I’ve got a colour I am happy with now and having done that I’ve added the black for the angle iron ribs. Now I can remove the matchstick that was being used as a hold while I painted the van. Final job will be to assemble all the components and finish off the couplings that I discovered I can’t build late at night when my eyes are tired!

1 Comment


One little job I had to complete on 121 was to ensure that I could recharge the speaker. It has a mini USB port but the access to it is limited because some revellers are close to the entry path. I managed it by stripping the rubber insulation off a usb charging cable and then using heat shrink to reduce the overall envelope of the cable plug.

The lady may have lost a leg in the process but she seems a bit too engrossed to notice…

I also wired in the socket for the lights. This sits under the vac pipe at the top end and I’ve made the power lead look like connected vac pipes.

121 is now complete. Just need to finish 59 in time for the consist’s debut on Bron Hebog at Narrow Gauge East.